'Anybody can be Polish on paczki day:' Blak's Bakery celebrates 100th anniversary

Paczkis, the super-sized doughnuts, are a Polish tradition and are eaten on Shrove Tuesday, the day before the Christian Lenten fast. Blak's Bakery made 35,000 of the fat-laden, fruit-filled pastries this year, which also marks the store's 100th anniversary.

Century-old Blak's bakery pumps out 35,000 paczkis for Shrove Tuesday

Valerie Blak-Gill, owner/operator of Blak's Bakery presses dough into paczkis (CBC Windsor)

Detroit radio legend J.P. McCarthy can be credited with the popularity of paczkis. That's according to Valerie Blak-Gill, owner of Blak's Bakery on Langlois Avenue.

"He started really kind of pushing the whole paczki idea and the idea took off from there," she said. "That would have been about 30-plus years ago."

Tony Doucette speaks with Valerie Blak-Gill, the owner of Blak's Bakery, as they prepare 35,000 pastries for Paczki Day. 8:09

Whether or not McCarthy can be credited, the paczki's popularity has flourished. Blak's is only one of a few Windsor bakeries to make the fat-laden, fruit-filled pastries. How many, you ask? Thirty-five thousand. That's enough to treat every Leamington resident, and still have some to spare.

The super-sized doughnuts are a Polish tradition eaten on Shrove Tuesday, the day before the Christian Lenten fast.

"Everyone who's Polish knows what a paczki is," said Blak-Gill but adds, "Anybody can be Polish on Paczki Day." 

Blak’s Bakery on Langlois Avenue is making 35,000 paczki for Fat Tuesday. 0:52

Staff at the bakery were there in full force yesterday. With a regular staff of around 20, the store was abuzz with between 40 and 50 people throughout the day. 

The store is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. 

Curious about other bakeries across Windsor-Essex that are ready to fill you paczki fix? Check out this handy guide from Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island.